What to think about the next time you buy a toothbrush – It's probably not what you think…

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Even the most expensive brushing systems are worthless if you brush incorrectly. This seems obvious, but since we all develop brushing techniques that become second nature, correcting bad habits can be difficult. So next time you buy a brush, take that opportunity to assess and improve your technique.

Most Common Brushing Mistake

  • Brushing too fast – rushing
  • Not reaching all teeth and all surfaces
  • Too much pressure (plaque removes easily)

Review Your Brushing Technique

Believe it or not, simply reviewing “correct” technique as recommended by one of the major Dental Associations can help you identify “bad habits” and make you more aware when brushing. Here are two links to get you started:

Proper Brushing Videos – American Dental Association

Proper Brushing PDF Download – American Dental Hygienists

Should you buy a power toothbrush?

If you have trouble with dexterity, experience hand fatigue easily, or have arthritis, a battery powered brush may be the best choice for you.

Manual Toothbrushes – What to get:

  • Soft bristles
  • Angled bristles
  • 30-35 bristles (most people)
  • Curved or angled handle

No matter what kind of brush you choose, remember that brushing the teeth for a full two minutes will ensure that plaque is fully cleaned from all the teeth to prevent oral infection.

A popular misconception is that the harder the bristles the better the toothbrush will clean. Not so. In fact, both, the medium and hard bristle brushes can cause damage to the gums as well as the tooth enamel if used incorrectly. Proper brushing technique and a soft bristled brush cleans effectively without damage to gums or teeth.

In the electric toothbrush category, there are battery-operated brushes as well as the rechargeable electric brushes. Battery-operated brushes only last as long as the battery. Typically they have less power than a rechargeable electric brush and do not tend to clean as effectively. You can keep an electric rechargeable brush indefinitely and simply change the head every 3 or 4 months. In this category, select either sonic or rotational electric brushes both of which are superior in plaque removal.

Size of the brush head as well as the handle is important. Make sure the head is not too large or too small. You want to be able to clean the back teeth and want to be sure the head is large enough to cover the entire surface area of the mouth in two minutes. For a typical adult mouth a size 30 or 35 brush head works well.

Make sure the handle is comfortable to hold and light enough that you do not become tired holding it for the full two minutes. If you have arthritis in your hands, wrap a facecloth around the toothbrush to thicken the grip when the hands are stiff.

So brush away. And don’t forget to floss too!